Life’s Building Blocks Found On Dwarf Planet Ceres

Organic molecules — those made primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms — are essential for life as we know it.  Carbon is the coolest, most special atom of all. Not only can it link in multiple ways to other atoms, but it happily links with itself to form incredibly complex molecules, the kind that…
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Asteroid Vesta At Its Best — Here’s How To See It

Lately, I’ve talked about how to find planets, but there are lots of other planet-like bodies in the night sky — the asteroids. As of March 2016, we know of 1.3 million of them, 750,000 of which have calculated orbits. The name asteroid comes from “aster,” Latin for star, and it perfectly describes their star-like…
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Jupiter Joins The Zodiacal Light Before Dawn

To calm my mind on Election Day morning, I took off before dawn for Lake Superior. Just a quick hop to a beach 10 minutes from home. There along the silent shore stood a slanted feather of comet dust dotted by the bright planet Jupiter. Winds were light, so Jupiter left a gleam line on…
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Stand In Awe Before Dawn’s Early Light

What sort of things make for jaw-dropping sky sights? You might answer a total eclipse of the sun or a raging, all-sky aurora. The other morning just before the start of dawn, I stood in awe before a phenomenon consisting of practically nothing at all. A great cone of luminous haze called the zodiacal light…
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Ahuna Mons, An Alien Volcano With Briny Mud For Magma

This simulated view of Ahuna Mons (Mt. Ahuna) was made using stereo photos NASA’s Dawn spacecraft acquired from its low mapping orbit in August shows one of the asteroid Ceres most remarkable features. Ahuna Mons is likely a cryovolcano or “cold volcano”, formed when salty mud rose up from underground in a growing, dome-like features similar…
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